Marion Barry Gets Set Up with a Kidney



Former D.C. mayor Marion Barry isn't exactly an ideal candidate for receiving a kidney donation. He's a 72-year-old in bad health, with a historical fondness for crack, who (until recently) wanted to keep his illness secret. Two weeks ago, he let the kidney out of the bag in order to dodge time in a federal prison for failing to file his 2007 taxes while on probation for previous tax violations. But when he needed a kidney, he got one:

D.C. Council member Marion Barry was lighthearted about the gravity of his kidney failure when he asked friends whether they would be willing to donate an organ last year.

Faced with yet another health battle, Barry (D-Ward 8) jokingly asked friends gathered at the Channel Inn, a restaurant on the Southwest waterfront, "Would you give me a kidney?" 

Kim Dickens, pictured at right, piped up and offered hers. The healthy 47-year-old wept with joy when she found out she was a match. 

Flabbergasted by her generous offer, Barry may have remarked: "I'll be goddamn…bitch set me up." But, you know, in a good way.

Barry is now recovering from what appears to have been a successful transplant in the hospital. Sadly, very few people in Barry's position are lucky enough to have a massive cast of characters from a long, public life to draw on in their time of kidney need. People die every single day, languishing on the waiting list for organs from cadavers. Too bad buying a kidney from a live stranger (who only needs one) is illegal.

No one makes the case for markets in kidneys better than former Reason editor-in-chief Virginia Postrel, who gave her kidney to mere acquaintance Sally Satel and then starred in a video with Drew Carey about markets for human organs, so I'll let them do it for me: